Someone asked me earlier this year how we pick the owners we decide to feature on the SALON TODAY 200 cover. “Is it political, are you looking for people with the most influence?”
Sometimes, I wish it were that easy. Putting together our January/February cover is more like assembling a big jigsaw puzzle. Because we’re taking individual images that have been submitted from applicants all over the country, then clipping out headshots and trying to marry them together in a composite that somewhat looks like they posed together for a photoshoot, it’s actually quite complicated.
First, Joyce Alverio, our editorial coordinator who processes all the applications pulls all the images from the current class of honorees and produces contact sheets so it’s easier for our art director Himanshu Suthar and myself to see what we have to work with. This year there were 58 contact sheets with 16 images per sheet—that’s roughly 928 images to consider.
We start by separating the team photos and the salon interiors out – those are options for the design of our interior editorial pages, but for the cover, we’re only focusing on salon owner portraits. Our executive managing editor Debbie Ogilvie keeps a running list of names of owners who have been featured on previous ST200 issues—and we separate those out.
Next Himanshu starts examining headshots for the quality of the photography – he’s looking for images that look like they’ve been professionally shot, that have a high resolution and whose background aren’t too complicated to eliminate through Photoshop.
Now, it’s time to start putting together the puzzle. Himanshu begins putting together groups of owners whose body poses and clothing choices look nice when merged together. I weigh in on the decision-making by looking for diversity. I want a nice balance of men and women from different-sized salons from all over the country. For weeks, we’ll pop options on and off the cover template until we start to get a group that we are all happy with.
At the same time, we’re debating over color theme choices. For the past three years, we’ve eased the quarrel by taking our cue from Pantone, the design world’s leading color authority who gathers a group of experts together each year and names a ‘Color of the Year.’ The announcement usually comes in December right as we are getting ready to ship the issue to press. This year, they named a zesty green called ‘Greenery’ as the color of the year. Oddly enough, the color was a mere shade different than the one Himanshu had already chosen as a backup.
In the meantime, as the group of owners is coming together, we seek opinions from other editors in the the office. Debbie is an eagle eye for anything that looks strange. One year we changed the color of an owner’s blouse so she blended better into the image (I did call and ask permission first). And, this year she didn’t like the way Gayle Fulbright’s fingers on her crossed arm looked like they were poking out of Martin Truong’s neck. So, we photoshopped out the fingers. Sorry, Gayle.
We continue to shift, tweak and adjust right up until our press deadline. Otherwise, I’m not sure we’d ever stop. As Himanshu and Debbie ship the issue off to press, I post the final image on Salon Today’s Facebook, as well as email a copy of the cover with a note to all of the selected honorees.
No matter how arduous the process gets each year, we always end up with a result we love.
So, without further adieu, meet the owners on this year’s cover. From the top row left, then clockwise, we have Eduardo Anderson, owner of 360 The Color Bar in El Paso, TX; Cindy Feldman, owner of Progressions Salon Spa Store in Rockville, MD; James Gartner and Adam Swanlund, owners of Bii Hair Salon in West Dundee, IL; Martin Truong and Jessica Hoach, owners of Eikonic House of Barbers in Brampton, Ontario; David Linde and Gayle Fulbright, owners of Headlines The Salon in Encinitas, CA; and Susan Casale, owner of Beehive The Salon, Inc., in Duxbury, MA.